Cisco UTM Appliances Protect Home Office, Enterprise Networks

The ASA 5505 is an entry-level appliance that comes with Cisco's PIX firewall, IPSec and SSL VPN, and boasts throughput speeds of up to 150 Mbps for firewall and 100 Mbps for VPN. The 5505 is appropriate for small businesses, branch and home office use, said Alex Thurber, director of security and wireless for worldwide channels at Cisco, San Jose, Calif.

"This is a great solution for the home office or small branch office, where you need comprehensive security, and it's also useful as an entry-level box," Thurber said.

Additional features include an 8-port 10/100 switch with VLAN support, three USB 2.0 ports and two Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) ports, Thurber added.

The 5505 also ships with an empty expansion slot through which additional functionality can be added to the appliance. Although the slot won't be activated in the initial release, Thurber indicated Cisco plans to make use of it in the future.

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Steven Reese, security practice manager at Nexus Integration Services, Valencia, Calif., said he believes the goal of including the empty slot in the 5505 is to enable feature parity with future security appliances. "I think that what we'll see in the near future is a scaled-back version of the intrusion prevention system [IPS] module and probably some kind of content security module, or a module that phones back to a parent module," he said.

The other new addition to the ASA line is the 5550, a high-end solution for large enterprises. In addition to eight Gigabit Ethernet ports, the 5550 sports firewall throughput speeds of 1.2 Gbps, VPN speeds of 425 Mbps and support for up to 5000 SSL and IPSec clients, Thurber said.

The 5550 provides a way for large enterprises to deploy an effective remote-access strategy, Reese said. "It's very reliable, and having the ability to support the amount of users, regardless of where they are connecting from, is important," he said.

The 5550 adds built-in clustering capability for linking up to 10 appliances and supporting up to 50,000 VPN clients, and can be licensed in increments of 10, 50 or unlimited users, Thurber said.

The ASA 5505 and 5550 are both available now, with the 5505 priced at $595 and the 5550 priced at $19,995.